Custom and Myth

Page: 24

Let us now turn to Preller. {61a} According to Preller, Κρονος is connected with κραινω, to fulfil, to bring to completion. The harvest month, the month of ripening and fulfilment, was called κρονιων in some parts of Greece, and the jolly harvest-feast, with its memory of Saturn’s golden days, was named κρονια. The sickle of Cronus, the sickle of harvest-time, works in well with this explanation, and we have a kind of pun in Homer which points in the direction of Preller’s derivation from κραινω:—

ουδ αρα πω οι επεκραιαινε Κρονιων

and in Sophocles (‘Tr.’ 126)—

ο παντα κραινων βασιλευς Κρονιδας.

Preller illustrates the mutilation of Uranus by the Maori tale of Tutenganahau. The child-swallowing he connects with Punic and Phœnician influence, and Semitic sacrifices of men and children. Porphyry {61b} speaks of human sacrifices to Cronus in Rhodes, and the Greeks recognised Cronus in the Carthaginian god to whom children were offered up.

Hartung {61c} takes Cronus, when he mutilates Uranus, to be the fire of the sun, scorching the sky of spring. This, again, is somewhat out of accord with Schwartz’s idea, that Cronus is the storm-god, the cloud-swallowing deity, his sickle the rainbow, and the blood of Uranus the lightning. {61d} According to Prof. Sayce, again, {62a} the blood-drops of Uranus are rain-drops. Cronus is the sun-god, piercing the dark cloud, which is just the reverse of Schwartz’s idea. Prof. Sayce sees points in common between the legend of Moloch, or of Baal under the name of Moloch, and the myth of Cronus. But Moloch, he thinks, is not a god of Phœnician origin, but a deity borrowed from ‘the primitive Accadian population of Babylonia.’ Mr. Isaac Taylor, again, explains Cronus as the sky which swallows and reproduces the stars. The story of the sickle may be derived from the crescent moon, the ‘silver sickle,’ or from a crescent-shaped piece of meteoric iron—for, in this theory, the fetich-stone of Delphi is a piece of that substance.

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It will be observed that any one of these theories, if accepted, is much more ‘minute in detail’ than our humble suggestion. He who adopts any one of them, knows all about it. He knows that Cronus is a purely Greek god, or that he is connected with the Sanskrit Krāna, which Tiele, {62b} unhappily, says is ‘a very dubious word.’ Or the mythologist may be quite confident that Cronus is neither Greek nor, in any sense, Sanskrit, but Phœnician. A not less adequate interpretation assigns him ultimately to Accadia. While the inquirer who can choose a system and stick to it knows the exact nationality of Cronus, he is also well acquainted with his character as a nature-god. He may be Time, or perhaps he is the Summer Heat, and a horned god; or he is the harvest-god, or the god of storm and darkness, or the midnight sky,—the choice is wide; or he is the lord of dark and light, and his children are the stars, the clouds, the summer months, the light-powers, or what you will. The mythologist has only to make his selection.